Israeli government ministers are teaming up with US officials in their efforts to dissolve the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) during next week’s UN General Assembly meeting in New York.
Israel’s deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely is reported to have headed to Washington DC today for a meetings with Trump administration officials and members of Congress in a bid to end UNRWA’s nearly 70 year role as the main relief agency for more than five million Palestinian refugees.
Hotovely is said to be working closely with the US Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz, to purse Israel’s ongoing campaign against the humanitarian agency which was set up in 1949 by the international community following the expulsion of over half the Palestinian population from their homes by Jewish para-military forces.
The right-wing Likud member, who believes Israel will never end its occupation of Palestine will meet with senior figures at the US State Department do discuss defunding the UN institution. With little to no international support for their efforts, America’s $300 million aid to the agency for 2017-2018 is the easiest target in dismantling the organisation.
Taking down UNRWA has become a goal of Netanyahu’s government. Israeli leaders view the perpetuation of refugee status of Palestinians and their internationally recognised right to return to their land as a major threat to Jewish majority and dominance in Palestine.
UNRWA was set up on the recommendations of slain UN Ambassador Count Folke Bernadotte. The Swedish diplomat, who was assassinated by Israeli terrorists, believed that no settlement would be just and complete if the international community failed to return Palestinian refugees to their homes. Two separate UN bodies were set up by the international community, UNRWA and the defunct United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine (UNCCP) for this effort and to ensure that the rights of Palestinian refugees were protected.
Despite initial efforts to solve the refugee crises, the international community has failed to protect their rights other than to provide humanitarian assistance through UNRWA. Israel, however, believes this to be a major problem as increasing numbers of right-wing politicians openly refuse to recognise a Palestinian state as well as refusing to end their country’s 50-year occupation. In their vision of Israel which stretches from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, any return of refugees to Palestine is viewed as a major threat as it will threaten to undermine the precarious Jewish majority.